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Friday, March 17, 2017

South Australian Police to Start Using FBI-Like Facial Recognition Software

In what will be used to fight crime and find missing persons, South Australian police forces will be beginning the use of facial recognition technology by late October.

Police Minister Peter Malinauskas made an announcement on Monday that an Australian technology company, NEC Australia, had been awarded the $780,000 contract. NEC will be building software that can scan faces from CCTV footage in real time and instantaneously match them against any pre-provided list of people or faces. South Australia will be the second jurisdiction in Australia to be using facial recognition software such as this. “Northern Territory police were the first to use the technology,” The Advertiser writes.

The Police Minister said that it would be used across the board by the end of October, both to help police forces solve crime and find missing persons. “The sort of challenges that face the South Australian police force, as is the case with every police force across the country, is becoming incredibly more complex, constantly evolving. And the types of crimes that are being committed in the community require our police force to be ever vigilant, so it’s important that we are giving our police force all the tools they could possibly have to be able to keep our community safe.”

Like in the fictional TV shows where police use software to enhance traffic camera images, Superintendent Scott Allison from the information and technology section says the new software will be able to capture dark and distorted images. The software will run those dark, blurry, and potentially unrecognizable images through a process that will make them crisper to aid officers in identifying suspected criminals.

“Let’s say we have a stolen vehicle that drives through a fast food outlet,” Scott Allison said. “Typically, those fast food outlets are videotaped or they (have) CCTV. We can capture that CCTV vision and provide still shots or run small snippets of that CCTV and we can match that or use that through the technology to try to get a match.”

NEC, the technology company tasked with producing the software, was awarded the contract in January of 2015. Chris Korte, NEC sales and marketing director, said NEC had worked with police agencies in the United States, Asia and the United Kingdom. “[The software will] greatly assist in reducing the time officers spend on identity management activities and allows them to be back on the streets keeping the public safe.”

One of the most notable examples of similar facial recognition would be the FBI’s massive database of 411.9 million faces.
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